The Fear of Mentoring Women


At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, one of the worries raised by the participants was a fear of mentoring women in the #MeToo era. Specifically, two thirds of male executives hesitate to hold one on one meetings with women in more junior positions. The December 3rd, 2018 issue of Bloomberg featured an article titled Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era – Avoid Women at All Cost. 

This is akin to the Catholic Church having a rule for priests to avoid young boys at all costs, which means young boys would be excluded from the confessional box; or managers taking the position that they should avoid meeting alone with Black, Latino or Muslim employees for fear of being accused of bigotry or discrimination.

It is bizarre we are having this debate on men fearing one on one meetings with women given we have failed miserably on the real issue, which is why women fear meeting one on one with men.

So let’s get real here.

There is ample evidence that false claims are extremely rare. In fact, data shows a man is 230 times more likely to be raped than to be falsely accused. The reality has been and still is, even after the #MeToo movement, that women (and men) are afraid to report sexual harassment and abuse. For most, those who have been brave enough to come forward, end up being portrayed as the villain rather than the target or victim. This we witnessed in spades with the Kavanaugh debacle.

Just over a year ago, in this publication I predicted:

“Inclusion of women in the workplace could take a serious hit. To avoid risk of exposures, organizations could be motivated to take the path of least resistance. Diversity may not suffer as much because of legislation or optics, but we should remember in this Harvard Business Review article that being diverse does not translate into being inclusive.”

In my article I also predicted the change in workplace dynamics like meeting alone with women.

This year’s World Economic Forum also highlighted the Conference Board’s top concerns CEO’s have, the number one being – attraction and retention of talent. What we are finding is one of the biggest reasons people decide to join and stay is how diverse and inclusive the organization is.

Despite the huge spend on D&I, the needle has barely moved. A first step to changing this is for CEO’s and human resources to focus on why women are afraid to meet one on one with men, rather than focus on the bogus issue of men being afraid to meet one on one with women.

The single most influencer of inclusion is the manager/subordinate relationship. I assert that it is impossible for any kind of effective relationship if meeting one on one is avoided.

Constructive, honest feedback is one of the pillars on which sponsorships are based. Sponsorships is one of the catalysts for advancement. If women are not getting feedback from their sponsors because of fear or retaliation, it undercuts the organization’s efforts for more diversity in leadership.

In a Mental Health America/ Faas Foundation survey, we have found that the majority of North American employees feel excluded because managers are shirking their responsibility as a sponsor, coach and mentor. In most organizations, managers are merely controllers who command and control.

Coaching and mentoring are usually provided only to those who have been identified as having a personality problem or those who have been caught in a bad behaviour. What has been lost, for a variety of reasons, is the whole concept of servant leadershipwhere managers are viewed as that of coach and mentor.

To advance this concept, we should stop focusing so much on men as executives and managers; and place more reliance on women as executives and managers because it is a proven fact that they are better executives and managers because they are better coaches and mentors.

Gallop’s ‘State of the American Manager Report’cites over four decades of research and 27 million responses females outperform their male counterparts when it comes to driving engagement. Positive responses to three questions by employees who have a female boss point to better coaching and mentoring by females. They are:

There is someone at work who encourages my development.

In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.

In the last seven days, I received recognition for doing good work.

In our MHA/Faas Foundation survey we are finding that the majority of American employees would answer no to these questions, and I would suggest this is because the majority work for a male.

From my perspective the solution to addressing those that are unwilling to meet one on one with women, is pretty simple – replace them with women. In doing this, organizations can jump start their D&I objectives and help address the attraction and retention concerns.

Andrew Faas is co-CEO of Accordant Advisors, a Public Voices fellow at Yale University and former executive with Weston/Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada. Author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire.

New Year’s Resolution—Become A Revolutionist


A revolutionist is someone who forces change.

Having spent the last six years studying and writing and speaking about workplace dynamics I have come to understand better than most what is at the core of the raw negative emotions that threaten democracy and all that it represents. What I have discovered is how uncivilized  we have become, not just at work, but in almost every aspect of our lives.

What I have also discovered is that it is in our human nature to shift attitudes, and behaviors in reaction to what is happening around us and what is being done to us, by doing it to others and exposing our inherent biases. This is becoming a major societal shift where basic fundamental values and human rights are under siege and leading us into a more barbaric world.

Rarely a day goes by when there is not a story in the media about abuse of power, inappropriate behavior, corruption and greed in every segment of our society, worldwide. Whether it is business, industry, government, military, police, religion, social services, sports, unions, the media, entertainment; non have been immune. Combine this with the unnecessary stresses that most people experience at work, it is understandable that people are disgruntled, cynical, skeptical, frustrated, angry and afraid.

Given the rise of extremism and intolerance because of this it has become hard to imagine how all of all of this negative energy can be reversed. To reverse this requires nothing short of a revolution. As revolutions are occurring for evil, revolutions have and can occur for good.

Personally to reverse this I am inspired by the writing of Mahatma Gandhi:

“It is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honor, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration.”

As becoming a revolutionist for good requires a strong sense of self, this article is a first in a series on becoming a better and stronger person who can force change. This series called The A–B–C’s of Leadership starts with


“Want to help others? Be yourself. You’ll inspire others to muster the  courage to be themselves as well.” – Kamand Korjouri

Given all of the stories in the media about inappropriate behaviors, corruption, greed and abuse in all aspects of our society, it is small wonder that people are skeptical of almost everyone they have to deal with.  When we reviewed our own experiences over the last decade, the number of people and organizations who have betrayed our trust, far outweighed those who gained it.  This exercise caused us to reflect on, whether we were just unlucky in who we had to deal with and believe in, or, is it a phenomenon that is entrenched in the way we learn, interact, work and live.  Doing a quick straw poll, what we heard was astoundingly negative and the most common phrase we heard was “I don’t know who I can trust anymore”.

To better understand the meaning of authenticity, we suggest the reader view it in the context of who is the one person you would follow, go to for advice, divulge sensitive information to, represent you and protect your interests; and then you should understand why you identified the person you did.  Also, do you think that others would identify you as that one person and if not, why not?  We assert by making this critical assessment you will not only better understand authenticity but more importantly realize how you, by being authentic can positively influence the world around you and in doing so lead a far richer life.

What we have witnessed in the United States election cycle is the inability of most of the candidates to define themselves. What we have also heard loud and clear from the electorate is their desire for an authentic leader.

Regardless of whether we agree with his politics, Bernie Sanders stood out as first amongst equals on authenticity and because of this, has resonated with the people.  A USA Today poll showed that Sanders was the least “scary” candidate.

By contrast Hillary Clinton has been in the spotlight for over four decades, yet we hardly know her, perhaps this is because she does not have a strong sense of self and compensates by portraying herself by her professional accomplishments and the positions she has held.  Impressive as these credentials are; that is just what they are, credentials verses a definition of character.

Ironically Donald Trump has captured the mood of the electorate and is viewed by many as authentic, likely because he is perceived to ‘tell it like it is’.  What was largely missing were sufficient challenges by his opponents and the media on Trump’s inconsistencies, distortions, slurs, vindictiveness and intolerance for dissenters.  Donald Trump is not authentic and the authenticity of his opponents and the media has been diluted because they fear his wrath.  Donald Trump should be feared, not for having to endure his wrath, but feared for what he has the potential to do when he becomes the President of the United States.

For over three decades Bill Cosby was a role model for authenticity.  Today he is a pathetic example of an evil, perverted, creepy, vindictive fake.  The deplorable way he has responded to the allegations of abuse has reinforced how inauthentic he is, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The biggest challenge for anyone is to convince people to do something or accept a certain position. People who are most successful in doing this have earned respect because of their authenticity.  Unfortunately, too many people rely on what they say, the power and control they have, their position in society, their religious affiliation, their personality, their past accomplishments, their academic credentials and their viewpoints on political, social and economic issues to convince people.  What all too many people do not grasp is respect.  Respect is not automatically vested with tenure, power, control or status.

President Obama in the February 22 – 29, 2016 issue of Time in an eloquent article called “The world I want my daughters to grow up in” wrote:  “Those of us in positions of power have to set the example with the way we treat one another – not by viewing those who disagree with us as unpatriotic or motivated my malice, but with a willingness to compromise.  We have to listen to those with whom we don’t agree….” On this everyone should consider themselves “in positions of power” – as a student, parent, teacher, coworker, boss because we all can influence by who we are.

Authenticity is not genetic or inherited. It is a characteristic that is developed and honed over time, shaped by your beliefs, values and experiences and is in essence who you become.  Authenticity is also a combination of all of the characteristics I discuss in my upcoming book, “From Bully to Bull’s-Eye,” and the sum of the parts that makes one genuine, whole and fulfilled.

To be authentic, one must develop a strong sense of self by asking who you really are as a human being, and assessing whether or not you respect yourself.  If you fall short on this, others will likely hold the same view of you.  It is also likely that your view of others is skewed by how you view yourself.

In testing for authenticity, do you:

  • Spontaneously do what is morally and ethically the right thing?

  • Steadfastly and consistently uphold and protect your core values and beliefs?

  • Tell your family members, friends, associates, subordinates and superiors what you think he or she needs to hear?

  • Provide constructive criticism in an open, honest and direct manner?

  • Expose wrongdoing?

  • Call people out for bad behavior?

  • Genuinely compliment others?

  • Express genuine gratitude?

  • Actively listen?

  • Alter your positions or viewpoints based on compelling arguments?

  • Understand how others emotionally feel?

  • Understand why others feel the way they do?

  • Let others know how you emotionally feel?

  • Defend and protect those who are wronged?

  • Give proper attribution and credit when things go right?

  • Take appropriate responsibility when things go wrong?

  • Treat people with respect, regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, orientation, social standing and religion?

  • Deliver on promises and commitments?

  • Prop up people who fall?

  • Protect confidentiality?

  • Share your good fortune?

  • As gracious in defeat as you are in victory?

In December of last year, the late Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds became the first American soldier to be recognized by Yad Vashem, as a Righteous Among the Nations because he saved many Jewish soldiers in refusing Nazi demands to separate Jews from their fellow brothers, by ordering more than 1,000 Americans to step forward, declaring “We are all Jews here”, not wavering even with a pistol to his head, and the captors eventually backed down.  What an incredible example of authenticity, particularly in spontaneously doing the morally and ethically the right thing.

Stealing, lying, cheating, bullying — people miserable at work do unethical things


Recent charges laid against former Bloomberg executives for construction fraud and Huawei's finance chief for bank fraud; Goldman’s deepening 1MDB scandal; the jailing of Carlos Ghosn, ousted as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi; and the number of people on the Trump team who are accused of being complicit in wrongdoings all cap a year in which allegations of corruption, fraud, abuse, harassment, cover-ups and lies have dominated the news.

The Global Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), in its March 2018 report, warns that unless companies

“take steps that improve their workplace cultures, conduct among employees will decline.”

What they found was, in North America,

“more employees feel pressure to cut corners than ever before, and rates of retaliation for reporting have doubled in the past two years.”

Even worse,

“little progress has been made across the country … mitigating wrongdoing.”

Organizations have yet to build strong ethical cultures.

The problem is huge. The ECI found, in 2017, 47 percent of respondents personally observed misconduct and 67 percent of those said the wrongdoings consisted of multiple incidences or were part of an ongoing pattern. Sixty-three percent reported the misconduct they observed was committed by someone in management.

The numbers mirror results of a survey that we ran with the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence and the Faas Foundation, as part of the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace initiative. We sampled 20,000 North American workers, across all sectors and occupations, and found about 40 percent of employees witness unethical behavior in the workplace, such as not adhering to safety procedures, cheating, lying, stealing or bullying.

But the problem may even be bigger. Research suggests that people normalize unethical behavior because of moral disengagement. They justify their actions with the means (e.g., “Sometimes you just have to do bad stuff to get to good outcomes”) or find ways of avoiding responsibility (“People are not accountable for what an authority figure asks them to do”). Many employees might not even recognize that what they do is ethically wrong.

Ethics in the workplace has become a challenging societal issue — first, because every segment in society has been exposed, and second, because when people normalize these behaviors at work, where they spend most of their waking hours, they likely will normalize them outside the workplace. American psychologist Stanley Milgram provided a sober implication on this when he wrote,

“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process,” noting that “relatively few people have the resources to resist authority.”

Given this, it behoves every organizational leader to assess or reassess their culture.

There is no question that organizations have invested heavily in cultural initiatives, yet these initiatives have little impact — primarily because they’re usually put in as a legal or public relations shield.

To bring about a real difference and build a strong culture founded on ethics, and to protect the organization and our societies from the risk of harm and collapse because of wrongdoing, leaders need to shed light on what they have ignored for too long: emotions, the way people in their business feel.

Our work with the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence shows that too many people feel miserable at work. As a result of the anger, disgust, fear and unnecessary stress they experience, they do things they know they should not be doing — and likely rationalize it as normal over time. But if people feel positive, if they feel respected, safe and encouraged at work, occurrences of unethical behavior are a lot less likely.

It is not all about happiness and positivity, however; to the contrary, when employees do wrong, they should feel upset, guilty and worried. Rather than giving them a free pass that can encourage further unethical behavior, these employees need to be held accountable and shown a way to make amends, in part to relieve their negative emotions.

Emotion is not often a topic at the top of the agenda of organizational leaders — but our research suggests it should be, because it is how people feel that drives what they do.

In our survey for the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace initiative, we found that when employees had a supervisor who exhibited low emotional intelligence, they were three times as likely to report incidences of unethical behavior in their units. They also reported feeling considerably more negative and less positive emotions.

But a supervisor’s emotional intelligence is not a panacea. When job security is low, or when performance management is unfair, there is more unethical behavior even if the supervisor is emotionally intelligent.

Supervisors make a difference, but are themselves embedded in an organizational culture. The leadership of an organization needs to recognize the pivotal role of emotions and build a culture that prevents emotions that lead people astray.

We urge organizational leaders to learn from what occurred in 2018 and resolve in the new year to reassess and strengthen their cultures, to engage their employees and reduce the risk of wrongdoing.

How Harvard, and corporate America, could fairly evaluate people


The Harvard admissions trial that began in October highlights why diversity, inclusion, fairness and equity initiatives have yielded such dismal results, despite innumerable academic studies and the huge focus and spending by corporate America on this over the past couple of decades. We believe it is because of inadequacies involving how people are evaluated and assessed.

Ironically, Harvard’s admissions criteria were established as part of their affirmative action initiative, and what they found is constant with the failure of diversity and inclusion initiatives generally — that is, they lack analytical rigor and are ambiguous as to outcome. If these initiatives are based on data and metrics integrated into overall business strategies, they are more likely to move the needle.

In analyzing admissions data from Harvard, the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), who filed the lawsuit, found the admissions practice factored in personality traits and characteristics that significantly undermined otherwise qualified Asian Americans’ chances of getting into Harvard. The characteristics and traits were subjective, ambiguous, intangible in nature and relied on intuition on the part of those making the assessments. This revealed biases.

There is a parallel to how Harvard evaluates and assesses to hiring, promotion and performance management in corporate America. A Mental Health America/Faas Foundation study, Mind the Workplace, of more than 20,000 respondents found the majority of workers are not fairly and properly evaluated and assessed. Specifically, the study found:

  • 17 percent believe their organization always or often deals appropriately with co-workers who are doing his or her job;

  • 28 percent feel that all people are held accountable for their work, regardless of their position in the company;

  • 22 percent feel that people are paid what they are worth; and 

  • 23 percent feel that people in their organization are being unfairly recognized, while others with better experience or skills don’t get recognition.

As with performance management in the hiring and promotion processes there also is a disproportionate reliance on the perceptions and intuition of those making the decision to hire or promote, much of which is subjective or ambiguous. So, like Harvard’s admissions, there are biases, conscious and unconscious — which gets us back to the reason diversity, inclusion, fairness and equity initiatives usually fail.

The answer here is pretty obvious: rooting out bias. A first step for organizations is to review the criteria they use in assessing and evaluating to reduce subjectivity, ambiguity and intangibility in how they measure. The next step is for decision-makers across the organization to better understand bias.

While most people understand conscious bias, few understand unconscious bias. 

Unconscious biases are errors in judgment that cause people to make choices that unwittingly favor one group over another. Most people are unaware they harbor unconscious biases, do not recognize situations in which unconscious bias may play a role in their decision-making, and  often hold conscious beliefs that are directly opposite of their unconscious bias.

Unconscious biases are most prevalent in situations where individuals must make decisions based on an overwhelming amount of data, under time constraints. The brain uses unconscious biases as “shortcuts” to make decision-making easier and faster.

Though unconscious biases are universal — everybody has them to some extent— having them does not mean that a person is racist, sexist, ageist, etc. Unconscious biases can directly contradict consciously-held beliefs, and individuals can harbor biases against their own group. Awareness of the potential for unconscious bias in decision-making can mitigate its effects, although some biases are deeply rooted and can be difficult to eliminate.

Once people understand unconscious biases, they should not let a single experience or criterion determine an employee’s overall performance. They should ensure that specific criteria, based on skills and performance, are used to evaluate all candidates equally and fairly.

Decisions should not be influenced by familiarity with the candidate or unrelated information. The person evaluating or assessing someone should step back and think about the candidate from an “outsider’s” perspective. Would an outsider agree with the logic?

The third step to root out bias — and, we believe, the most important — is ongoing, open, honest and direct boss-to-subordinate dialogue.

This is a rare dynamic. What works is a value exchange model in performance management, where employer and employees both can set clear, tangible, unambiguous and reasonable expectations of one another.

Once agreement is reached on expectations, it becomes a covenant. What makes this work is having ongoing discussions, using the covenant as the framework for the discussions. This model, we have found, can lift barriers to diversity, inclusion, fairness and equity.

Why we need emotionally intelligent leaders

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

The top management of social media companies such as Facebook have demonstrated failure to factor in the feelings of their stakeholders and understand the serious consequences of their actions.

In business, we tend to admire leaders who achieve innovative results and often overlook their bad behaviors. As a culture, we have normalized the abnormal and, at times, glorified such behaviors. In a recent example, the University of Maryland’s board of regents reinstated the university’s football coach after a two-month absence, before firing him a day later, because they considered his star power more important than his bullying behavior, which resulted in a fatality.

Because of the numerous exposures of wrongdoings, including abuse and harassment that has touched every aspect of our society, we are just starting to recognize the risk of poor leadership. 

Poor leadership can be put into three categories.

First, “Brilliant Jerks.” We don’t have to search long for examples of leaders who can be labeled as “brilliant jerks.” They leave a trail of collateral damage behind. Leaders such as Apple founder Steve Jobsor former Uber CEO Travis Kalanickcome to mind, but the list is long and growing.

Second, “Espousers.” These leaders espouse responsible and conscious leadership, but in turbulent times show poor leadership through deflection, denial and deceit, discrediting those who cross them. Leaders such as Wells Fargo’s former CEO John Stumpf, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichaiand Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerbergcome to mind, but that list also is long and growing.

The third category of poor leaders are the “Predators” — those accused of sexual abuse such as former Fox News CEO Roger Ailesand Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Like the other lists, this one is long and growing.

So, what makes a good leader?

Doris Kearns Goodwin in her recent book, “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” captures the essence of leadership by describing Abraham Lincoln’s greatest strength: “Possessed of a powerful emotional intelligence, Lincoln was both merciful and merciless, confident and humble, patient and persistent — able to mediate among factions and sustain the spirits of his countrymen. He displayed an extraordinary ability to absorb the conflicting skills and wills of a divided people and reflect back to them an unbending faith in a unified future.”  

If boards of directors mandated emotional intelligence as a core competency for everyone in a management capacity, the toxic cultures poisoning our institutions could be transformed.

This belief is reinforced in a study by David Rosetethat found leaders who were more emotionally intelligent were more likely to achieve their goals, but they cultivated relationships and engaged in more, not less, ethical behavior.

The ability model of emotional intelligence (EI), developed by John (Jack) Mayer and Peter Salovey, defines EI as intelligence and a set of hard skills — which include determining how you and others feel; how to match the right emotion to the task, and match the mood of others to connect with people; how to determine the meaning or cause of these moods and emotions; and how to be able to constantly move, or manage moods and emotions to stay on task.

In the Rosete study, leaders took an objective measure of EI and their performance was evaluated. Leaders higher on the EI measure were slightly more likely to achieve their concrete goals than leaders lower in EI. But higher EI leaders were more likely to display behaviors such as exemplifying personal drive and integrity, or cultivating productive working relationships. The two main messages of the study are: You can still hit your targets without acting like a Jobs or a Kalanick; and the turbulences similar to what Google and Facebook are going through can be avoided.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, validates the last point. Barra inherited the ignition switch crisis, and unlike Zuckerberg, she took full responsibility for it. But more importantly, she changed the culture at GM to foster relationships so that people at every level are comfortable in speaking truth to power.

Another misconception is that emotionally intelligent leaders are always happy and smiling. The ability model of EI views all emotions as potentially smart and adaptive. Different emotions can be harnessed to drive performance and positive. The goal of an emotionally intelligent leader is not to create an environment where everyone is happy all the time. In general, you want a positive climate, so people are engaged, productive and ethical, but you tactically dip into other emotions to drive a particular result, interaction or meeting.

The challenge that some leaders have with emotions is failing to fully and productively harness the power of emotions such as anger. Here again, Lincoln’s emotional intelligence was reflected in his tremendous skill in managing and harnessing anger and other emotions effectively. Anger, which often arises from a sense of injustice, can fuel positive change. But that fuel represents raw power that needs to be effectively harnessed to bring about change.

Our emphasis on the importance of emotional intelligence does not mean you need to trade off IQ points for a leader with high EI. Both are essential; it’s not an either/or proposition. Because EI is a standard intelligence, it is positively related to general intelligence (IQ). Therefore, it should be mandatory to hire and promote people who are smart in the traditional sense, as well as highly emotionally intelligent.

Emotional intelligence is not a golden ticket but rather, a core competency essential to lead in turbulent times.

Six ways to engage employees and avoid a Google-like walkout

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

The walkout last week by thousands of Google employees across their global network, and the CEO’s well-intentioned response and apology, illustrates how organizations miss the obvious in fostering positive relationships with their employees.

So, what is the obvious? Well, from my perspective it is to understand how their employees feel, why they feel the way they do, and what they expect from them.

In the work I do in organizational dynamics, I have found that most organizations are pretty clear about expectations they have of their employees. Most expect people to join, stay, work to their full potential, be engaged and refer the organization to customers or other employees. These expectations are even more critical today, and for the foreseeable future, given talent shortages.

Well, to be sure, the brass at Google certainly must understand what their employees expect of them. From what has been reported, employees have made it clear: They expect diversity, inclusion, fairness, input, and transparency. Perhaps the most fundamental expectation is for the organization to reinstitute the abandoned principle of “Don’t be evil.” This motto, translated in the employment relationship, means putting a stop to harassment and abuse; from a reputation perspective, it means to be socially and ethically responsible.

The question that the board at Google should ask is, “Why did it have to take a walkout of thousands of employees to discover this?” The board also should challenge its human resources folks, the people responsible for risk management, and their audit committee on what they knew. If they claim they were not aware of the depth or breadth of the discontent, they are either negligent or they covered it up. As evidenced by the #MeToo exposures, in most cases situations were open secrets for years, and in some cases decades.

In fairness, Google has been at the vanguard in attracting and retaining employees, providing them with every conceivable benefit under the assumption that these often-frilly perks addressed their expectations.

No doubt, as with most large organizations, Google conducted engagement surveys and introduced programs in diversity, inclusion, abuse, harassment, sensitivity and mindfulness. In most organizations, these surveys and programs yield few material results. The reason for this is that they are usually superficial and complex, viewed as gobbledygook and utilized mostly to provide a legal and/or public relations shield.

An even more significant likely reason for the Google walkout is that boss-to-subordinate relationships have become pretty much non-existent. My research has found that, for over two-thirds of North American workers, the only work-related interaction between boss and subordinate is the dreaded-by-both annual performance review and when things go south. Also, for many, employees are being micro-controlled; retail employees at Wells Fargo, for example, were constantly harped at, some multiple times per day, to fulfill dictated quotas.

The absence of face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice, interactions is a huge factor in bosses not hearing what they need to hear. Because Google is a technology company, it is likely that technology is a substitute for human interactions. 

In a Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence/Faas Foundation initiative, called “Emotion Revolution in the Workplace,” and a Mental Health America/Faas Foundation study, called “Mind the Workplace,” we found, from the combined surveys of over 40,000 American workers across all sectors, common stress factors that a majority endure. These stress factors are consistent with what Google employees reportedly have exposed.

From these studies, we have established six conditions necessary for engagement, which, when embedded into company culture, will avoid situations like the Google walkout:

  • Trust

  • Diversity and inclusion

  • Clear relationship value exchanges 

  • A sense of purpose

  • A sense of efficacy, and 

  • The ability to speak to power.

Over my career I have created these conditions at organizations I have led. I have also had labor relations and human resources under my portfolio of responsibilities. For the first 23 years, I worked in a unionized environment, and then 10 years in a franchise model. Both organizations had more than 40,000 employees in multiple locations in Canada. I am most proud that, under my watch, there was not a single strike, walkout or grievance that went to arbitration or civil action that related to employment.

This is despite our going through numerous cultural integrations, restructurings and culling of staff, most because of performance, ethical breaches or inappropriate behaviors. We set high expectations and held accountabilities. 

In all of our decisions, we minimized the negative impact on employees. We constantly gauged how employees felt and, more importantly, understood why they felt the way they did. As a result, we enjoyed the trust, respect and loyalty of employees, which resulted in sustainable top and bottom line performance that exceeded our benchmark comparable organizations. 

The walkout at Google should be a wake-up call for all boards and CEOs. Given the risks attached to attracting and retaining talent, and the impact it can have on enterprise value, not understanding how or why your employees feel the way they do could be fatal.

Judging Kavanaugh, Ford takes 'emotional intelligence'

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

Last week, the world stopped and watched the Kavanaugh proceedings; it witnessed why emotions matter, and why emotional intelligence must be considered a core competency. We should all reflect on and learn from what occurred here, because the emotional intelligence displayed at the proceedings are reflective of the state of our society, in every segment.

Long before emotional intelligence was studied, Abraham Lincoln put it in context: “The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” 

I assert that developing our emotional intelligence skills is the surest way to reach “the better angels of our nature.” Let me explain.

Emotional intelligenceis a misunderstood science and is viewed by many as a “soft skill,” and therefore rarely effectively applied. My colleagues at Yale and I described this in our op-ed “Why companies need discussion, debate — even defiance — in the workplace,”making the argument that emotionally intelligent people are better decision-makers, enjoy greater wellbeing, are better able to help others regulate their emotions, are more effective at their jobs, and more respectful and compassionate with family, friends and colleagues.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand and manage your own emotions, the emotions of others and emotional relationships with others. 

There is no question that the two-day hearings were highly emotional for all involved, including the viewing audience. We witnessed raw emotions play out in good ways and in bad. We also witnessed the power of emotional intelligence, the destructive force of lashing out solely based on emotions, and the consequences of not factoring emotions into the equation.

What we saw and heard were examples of people with high and low emotional intelligence.

Christine Blasey Ford exemplified high emotional intelligence under tremendous pressure. Her ability to regulate her emotions with grace and dignity garnered credibility and respect, and taught us that regulating emotions does not mean not showing emotion. Her emotions were visible for all to see and hear, conveyed in an intelligent rather than an emotional way. 

By contrast, Brett Kavanaugh exemplified low emotional intelligence.

I can relate to Kavanaugh’s anger. I have also had my reputation discredited. Because of the work I have done in making emotional intelligence a core competency in the organizations which I have led, however, I was able to react to a horrible situation in an emotionally intelligent way.

Kavanaugh’s emotional response made him less believable. With the sexual assault allegations against him turning into a “he said, she said” issue, he showed poor judgment — as a judge, he particularly should have understanding that the ways people react to their feelings — as well as why they feel the way they do — can be an important indicator of credibility, temperament and judgment.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) exemplified high emotional intelligence when he listened to the women who confronted him at the Capitol, and heard how they feel and why they feel the way they do. He, unlike most of his Republican colleagues, seems to have paid rapt attention to Ford’s testimony. This brought him to reach “the better angels” of his nature, reaching out to his colleague, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), to find a compromise solution in a polarized situation.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), whose father has struggled with alcoholism, showed remarkable restraint at Kavanaugh’s insensitive “I don’t know, have you?” reply when she asked if he ever has been blackout drunk. In waiving the opportunity to fire back with an emotional response of her own, she exemplified high emotional intelligence.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and his Republican colleagues appear to have been directed to factor out emotions altogether throughout the hearings, as well as any further evidence that could provide insight on Kavanaugh’s credibility, temperament, judgment and overall fitness. In doing so, they exemplify low emotional intelligence.

Over my career, I have been called on to address conflicting versions of stories many times. I have found that these situations require thoroughness of inquiry. Four things are essential for reviewing and understanding:

  • how the parties feel, and why they feel the way they do;

  • all available evidence;

  • the perspectives of others;

  • and, after reviewing the first three, how you feel and why you feel the way you do.

Because of the emotional intelligence of Flake, all of the parties involved now have had a few more days to apply their emotional intelligence in deciding whether their emotions and the emotions of others matter.

Judge Kavanaugh, in his testimony, appealed: “I ask you to judge me by the same standard that you want applied to your father, your husband, your brother or your son.”

I ask everyone, particularly the men involved, to go further.

Take the time to determine how the women in your life feel about the situation and why they feel the way they do. What you will hear are perspectives that should move you. Given the ratio of women who have experienced some form of sexual abuse at some point of their lives, odds are that at least one woman in your life has been impacted. After hearing this, gauge and understand how you feel.

Going through this, you will find that your emotions and those of others are impossible to deny. When the time comes to decide, and if you respond intelligently, you will “swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched ... by the better angels of our nature.”